HOUSTON — Flooding brought Houston to a near-standstill Tuesday and killed as many as five people there, sending normally tame rivers and bayous surging past their banks, inundating streets and homes, and leaving roadways littered with thousands of abandoned, ruined cars.

Punishing thunderstorms left at least five other people dead over the weekend in Texas and Oklahoma, and a dozen or more missing. Recovery teams resumed the search Tuesday for 12 people who are missing after a rain-swollen river carried a vacation home in Wimberley, Tex., off its foundation and slammed it into a bridge downstream.

Floodwaters from those storms flowed downstream from central Texas into the Houston area Monday night and Tuesday morning, bolstered by as much as 10 inches of rain that lashed the area overnight. Houston’s Metro mass transit system suspended all rail and bus service, and the Houston Independent School District, with more than 215,000 students, closed all of its schools and offices Tuesday. Even as officials asked people to avoid driving, and warned that emergency crews might not be able to rescue them, miles-long traffic jams formed where floods severed major roads and highways.

Sections of two major roadways, Memorial Drive and Allen Parkway, that run parallel to Buffalo Bayou were turned into a lake. On Tuesday morning, dozens of people gathered on an overpass to stare in awe at the sight: Water the color of chocolate milk filled up the low-lying thoroughfares and rose so high that it submerged all but the tops of some street signs.

One family in Meyerland, a section of Houston that was one of the areas hardest hit areas by the flooding of Brays Bayou, survived the storm in the game room on top of their garage as their single story house flooded overnight.

“We are bunkered down upstairs in this game room, but our house had over three feet, maybe four feet, of water in it last night and this morning,” Michelle Blum said in a phone interview Tuesday, while she, her husband and her four children waited for the waters in the neighborhood to recede.

Overnight, the water in front of their home rose so high that their car, a Suburban parked on the street, had water over the windows.

Trent Stephens, 43, had no problems commuting to work Tuesday morning: He used his inflatable stand-up paddle board to paddle to his office in the middle of flooded Memorial Drive. Mr. Stephens, a lawyer whose office is about 10 blocks from Buffalo Bayou, estimated that the water was eight to 10 feet deep on the roadway. Once a month, Mr. Stephens said he takes the paddle board to work using Buffalo Bayou. His trip on Memorial Drive on Tuesday was different.

“I just passed a couple of submerged cars and I had to kind of go around them so I didn’t go over the top of the vehicle,” Mr. Stephens said. “There was somebody in a canoe or kayak on the other side. Everybody’s pretty laid back in this town.”

As southbound traffic was diverted off Interstate 45 just north of downtown, a long line of idled eighteen-wheelers snaked through a normally quiet residential neighborhood of historic houses and live oaks. Two women walked down the line of trucks and offered trapped drivers bottles of water.

Cliff McNeill, a long-haul trucker from Dayton, Ohio, trying to make three deliveries around town, and stuck in the line, said he had spent the stormy night in his cab at a truck stop north of the city and watched warily as the waters rose up to the lug nuts of the tires. “Houston was in a drought and needed this but it didn’t need it all in a deluge,” he said.

Mayor Annise Parker confirmed two deaths at a news conference, saying that one body had been found in a flooded vehicle, and another in Braes Bayou. The Associated Press reported that three more bodies had been recovered in the region.

The mayor said that emergency workers had performed about 130 high-water rescues from vehicles overnight. Once the water recedes, she said, the city faces an enormous job towing the wrecked vehicles and clearing mud from the roadways.

“I want to urge folks to not go out looking for floodwaters, not to go out sightseeing,” she said.

Read more: Floods Bring Death and Destruction to Texas and Oklahoma

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